When Carroll’s athletic success is covered, softball sometimes gets lost in the discussion. But that may change this spring.
Head coach Tim Stuewe’s program has already clinched a share of the district championship for what is believed to be the first time since 2004. The Lady Dragons (14-5, 9-0 in District 7-6A) needed only one win in their last three games – Monday against Colleyville Heritage, Tuesday against Haltom or Friday versus Hurst L.D. Bell – to wrap up an outright title.
“It’s something that we’re very proud of,” said Steuwe, who is in his seventh season running the program. “The girls have been playing a very strong brand of softball. We’re pretty balanced throughout the lineup, and we’re doing all the little things to give ourselves a chance to win.”
That’s putting it mildly. Carroll has taken this district apart. The Lady Dragons have won eight district games by the 10-run rule (leading by 10 runs after five innings) and have batted .448 in district. For the season, Carroll is batting .365 and has scored 165 runs (8.7 runs per game).
Admittedly, District 7-6A has not been as strong as what was first expected. Carroll beat Richland, a one-time traditional power, by scores of 19-4 and 19-2.
Stuewe has the luxury of using two starting pitchers each week. Sometimes you can’t tell one from the other, because the two of them are so similar in their styles.
Neither senior Jessica Tunink nor junior Cami Green is overpowering. But they have been consistent in throwing strikes, letting their defense make plays and keeping the game in a rhythm. Green pitches on Tuesdays and is 7-2 with a 4.15 earned-run average. Tunink starts on Fridays and is 7-3 with a 3.20 ERA.
“They do a nice job of keeping people off balance,” Stuewe said. “We know we’re pretty lucky because most teams are going with one pitcher. We can turn to a lot of people who can keep us in ballgames.”
The lineup cometh
The Lady Dragons lineup creates the question of whether anyone can keep this team off the base paths. Carroll has hit only five home runs thus far. But that isn’t a bad thing in softball. The idea is to keep the lineup turning over.
It starts at the top of the order with senior second baseman Nikki Spuria. She’s hitting .390 with a .478 on-base percentage and leads the team with 26 runs scored. Junior center fielder McKenzie Schneider has been solid at the No. 2 spot hitting .400 and a team-high 24 RBIs. She’s second in runs scored with 25.
Junior first baseman Christina Hill is doing what the No. 3 hitter should do – lead the team in batting. She’s hitting .452. Senior third baseman Gretchen Morgan is batting in the cleanup spot and is at .452. In a game two weeks ago against Euless Trinity, she went 3-for-3, all triples. She has a team-high eight triples. Meanwhile, freshman Abigail Stuart is in a productive spot in the order, batting fifth.
“The thing is that they’ve all contributed,” Stuewe said. “That’s what you need.”
It hasn’t been finalized, but if this season concludes the way Carroll hopes it would, and should 8-6A hold form, it appears the Lady Dragons could be facing Cedar Hill in the Class 6A Region I bi-district round.